HE Akbar al-Baker, secretary-general, Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC); and Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general, World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), have signed an agreement that will see QNTC become a sponsor of the first UNWTO Sports Tourism Start-Up Competition, which will be carried out in collaboration with Futbol Club Barcelona (FCB).
The competition aims to promote and strengthen the tourism and sports sectors while enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and boosting innovation in sports tourism, QNTC has said in a statement.
Winners of the competition will be incubated in the Barca Innovation Hub and their concepts will also be considered for implementation in Qatar, which is gearing up to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
HE al-Baker said, “Qatar has a longstanding tradition of supporting entrepreneurship in sports. We believe sporting events have a unique power to bring people of the world together, and that is also why sports tourism is one of six key sub-sectors we are investing in as part of our national tourism strategy. We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that will come through the inaugural Sports Tourism Start-Up Competition and hope that one of them will come to life in Qatar.”
UNWTO’s Pololikashvili added, “As host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is the natural driver for this significant endeavour. Joining forces with a global a sports leader such as Futbol Club Barcelona brings all key players on the same page, underscoring that tourism and sports are two leading sectors, and proving that international understanding and co-operation generate opportunities and benefits for all.”
The agreement was signed as Pololikashvili began his first mission to Doha since taking office in 2018. A dinner was held to welcome him and his delegation, and to discuss the latest developments in Qatar’s tourism sector as well as the ongoing implementation of the National Tourism Sector Strategy: The Next Chapter 2018-2023.
During their visit, the UNWTO delegation will be visiting tourism landmarks in Qatar and holding discussions with QNTC and other representatives of the public and private sector, exploring other ways the two organisations can exchange expertise and resources to support various programmes that aim to enhance the end-to-end visitor experience in Qatar, as well as boost the global tourism industry.
QNTC has previously collaborated with UNWTO to conduct studies around the impact that visa facilitation can have on Qatar’s tourism industry and economy. Following a series of measures implemented between 2016 and 2018, including waiving entry visas for nationals of nearly 90 countries, Qatar now stands as the most open country in the Middle East and the eighth most open in the world, according to UNWTO rankings.
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